In our evermore environmentally conscious world, we are being encouraged to only replace products at the end of their functional life and wherever possible to repair or extend their life, re-use and only when past economical repair to re-cycle.
Simon Mercer of Signo Nanocare, looks at how nano-coatings can help to reduce corrosion, wear, friction, porosity while maintaining the aesthetics of coated substrates and enhancing more environmental responsibility.
Nano coatings have been around for the last 40 years and utilised in many different industries where there is a need for easy cleaning and dirt repellence. Within the silicon dioxide based coatings, there has been a further subcategorization into nano-ceramics; through the addition of nano ceramic particles, these coatings can offer extreme levels of hardness up to 9H. Once bonded to a substrate, they offer multiple industries a range of benefits for extending the functional life of machinery components and can play a useful role as an alternative to traditional mould release agent technology
What appears to be a smooth surface to the naked eye, in fact contains microscopic peaks and toughs, which can be smoothed out by the nano-ceramic ingredients to leave an ultra-smooth liquid glass-like finish. The benefit of this surface transformation is that dirt, oil and grease build-ups are easily removed as the coating prevents them binding to the substrate’s rough surfaces. With the surface smoothed out, the coating improves aesthetics, provides appearance retention and protects from:-
- Wear and tear
All moving parts create a certain level of friction which causes wear as surfaces become rougher, the level of friction becomes greater, therefore increasing energy consumption and reducing efficiency. By maintaining as smooth a surface as possible for as long as possible, friction is kept to a minimum and installed energy efficiency is maintained for a longer period.
The ultra-dense ceramic quartz structure protects substrates as it forms a protective surface barrier, preventing the ingress of dirt and contamination that can impregnate the substrate and lead to further deterioration of the surface, thus shortening its life.
Wear and tear is inevitable in any process, it tracks the level of use and cannot be completely avoided, but its negative effects can be delayed by protecting moving surfaces with nano-ceramics. The 9H hardness and abrasion resistance means that the coatings can resist 20,000 cycles pursuant to ISO 11998 wet scrub test.
Corrosion and calcification of industrial plant and equipment are challenges that many manufacturing plants constantly contend with. Downtime caused by part failure or unscheduled maintenance can have significant impacts on production.
Nano-ceramic coatings provide a wide range of benefits for many different production and manufacturing settings. Food production sites can benefit from improved ease of cleaning, especially of production lines and holding tanks.
Easy cleaning translates into the environmental and production benefits of being able to reduce the amount of water and harsh cleaning chemicals needed to perform clean downs either between production runs or as part of the daily routine, increasing available production time.
SiO2 based nano-ceramics create hydrophobic surfaces, providing repellence in the form of beaded droplets. This non-stick performance will also prevent the adherence of other substances that have a static charge such as dust and dirt. Therefore, on angled surfaces, such as car paintwork, water will bead off, gathering dust and dirt particles as it descends from the surface.
On an untreated surface, liquids are not repelled and do not bead. The liquid molecules spread across the surface allowing them time to penetrate the substrate’s structure via the microscopic irregularities in the surface. This provides the perfect environment for surface rust and corrosion to get a foothold. In environments that are damp or constantly wet, nano-ceramics can disperse biofilms, preventing the build-up of bacteria, reducing infection issues for those working in the area.
The non-stick, chemical resistance and hydrophobic attributes of nano-ceramics make them ideal for use within the water and chemical industries, where porosity of pipeline surfaces, reactors and machinery, makes them susceptible to corrosion. Breakdowns are time-consuming and costly, with the increased maintenance a significant inconvenience.
Finally, the aesthetics of a product may seem like vanity and could be considered irrelevant to the functionality of equipment. However, the slightest damage to a surface, such as small scratches or abrasion marks, leave it open to air, moisture and other elements, leading to the increased likelihood of corrosion, which, while unsightly, also weakens the structure.
It is worth spending the time to understand how nano-ceramics can benefit individual processes and the different levels of performance enhancement that can be achieved. Depending on the application, differing strengths of coating can be specified to ensure optimum performance and cost-effectiveness.